August 13, 2003
ROCHESTER, NEW YORK
JULIUS MASON: Thomas Bjorn joining us at the 85th PGA Championship.
Welcome to Rochester. Why don't we start with some opening comments and we'll go to Q&A, please.
THOMAS BJORN: Well, the golf course is probably the best golf course we've played since, I don't know, quite a long time, I think. It's just magnificent. It's a big golf course. It's probably right up there with Bethpage as a big golf course, as a golf course where you need to be right on your game. One of the finest I've ever seen, that's for sure, and I think it will put out a very, very tough test for everybody this week.
For me, I feel it's a good golf course for me. I feel confident. I believe in my game at the moment. I feel that I'm doing all of the right things, I might not be swinging the club as well as I did at the Open, but I'm certainly striking the ball quite well at the moment. I feel very good about my game. I feel like I can go a long way this week, and it's one of those golf courses that when I set foot on it, I felt like, well, it suits the strengths in my game, being my iron play and certainly you have to putt well around here.
So I just felt like when I set foot on it, I felt like I could certainly go a long way here.
Q. Just the way the course is set up and how tight it seems to be or is expected to play, we're coming off three majors in which we've had first-time winners, although Mike Weir was certainly no surprise and neither was Furyk, but do you anticipate this course favoring more of the veteran, more established players and we may see a departure of what's gone on in the previous majors?
THOMAS BJORN: What you are really asking is Tiger going to win this week. (Laughing).
No, this golf course is, as I said, a big golf course. You need players that play the game solid, hit the ball a long way, hit it straight, but there's a lot of players that come in here with a very good game at the moment. I think the PGA TOUR this year has experienced something that we have not seen for a while in players -- the strongest players in the world winning a lot of times. I mean, we got Ernie who won a lot of tournaments this year; you've got Tiger winning a lot of tournaments; you have Mike Weir winning a lot of tournaments; you have Davis Love winning a lot of tournaments and you have Vijay Singh contending every week, and they are the finest players in the world and they are all playing well at the moment. Then you get a difficult golf course. They are going to be difficult to beat.
There's a lot of players in this field that if they can play their A -Games they can have a better chance than any of those guys going out with an A-minus. It's as simple as that. You've got to go out there and play the game. It doesn't matter what you did last week, it doesn't matter what you did three weeks ago; it's what you do this week. And the guy that plays the best golf this week is going to win. That's what this golf course is all about. You've got to play well. You're not going to get away with anything here. You get a bad tee shot here you're making bogey. You hit it on the wrong side of the greens, there's a big chance you're making bogey. You've got to hit the middle of these greens and then you're going to take your birdies when you get them.
There's no way around this golf course. You're not going to get away with it, and all of those guys are in good form, so they are going to be the favorites, but they are every time we tee it up.
I can see a lot of guys winning this week because I see a lot of good players out there that have not won majors that could win this week.
Q. Could you just talk about the reception that you've gotten from people here and everywhere you've been since the Open Championship and your disappointment there; what do people say to you about it?
THOMAS BJORN: Well, obviously, everybody has been very supportive, and that's obviously -- that gives you a great feeling that you come here and people have realized what went on. I don't feel like I'm getting -- I mean, I just feel like people felt for what happened and obviously, I was very disappointed at the time. I feel like I put it behind me. I don't really -- I don't really walk around every day thinking about it. I stick to what I'm good at at the moment.
I know my game has improved a lot over the last couple of months. I know I'm playing a lot better. I know that I can be with the best, I can play with the best, and, yeah, a couple of loose shots, but not ridiculously loose shots at the wrong times on that Sunday cost me a major championship.
But, you can only go away from that and say, well, I learned a lot this week and I'll go onto this week, and if it's not this week, I'll play four majors next year and I'll try every single time.
You can only continue to look to the future and try and do the right things. I was disappointed at the time but I don't live four or five weeks ago. I live now and now we are looking at the U.S. PGA Championship. This is a great opportunity for me to bounce back and play some good golf on a difficult golf courses with the best players in the world so I am just going to go out and enjoy this, knowing that my game is good enough.
The British Open is the British Open. It's long gone and there's nothing that I can do about it. I always said, the guy that stands with the trophy at the major championship is the guy that plays the best golf, and that's why Ben Curtis was the guy that played the best golf at the British Open. Me and Vijay played the second best golf that week. You just go on and know that your game is good enough and then you take a chance next week and you get one.
Q. Obviously your game is on form and you fit the mold of a PGA Championship winner. What other players specifically do you see rounding into form this week?
THOMAS BJORN: Well, there's all of the obvious ones. I mean, I see a couple of guys I think that could go close this week. I see Monty coming back into form. I see him with a chance of going close. He seems happy about his game. We always talk about who is the best players not to win a major championship, and, I mean, I'm playing with Mickelson and he started to play some good golf last week in Denver. I'd like to see him win a major championship soon. I think it's about that time he gets that off his shoulders and comes back to where he should be.
But those are probably at the moment, the two best players in the world not to win a major championship and I have a funny feeling they might both go close this week, with what has won the major championships this year. I think they can go in there with the feeling that, well, with the guys that won the majors this year, we should also come in here feeling like we could win because Mike Weir and Jim Furyk were up there with those people that were some of the best players in the world not to win a major championship and they both got that off their backs now. And it must be players like Mickelson, Monty, that must give them a lot of feeling that they can go in here and have a chance.
Q. Could you give me an estimate on what you think the winning score will be this year and how many people will break par?
THOMAS BJORN: I think we are going a bit away from what we saw a couple of times at the PGA. I think we are going very much to a U.S. Open course, maybe a little bit better than a U.S. Open course. I don't see many people breaking par around here. Five, six, no more than ten.
Winning score, that has a lot to do with the weather. If it stays as wet as it is, I can see that there's a couple of guys that will shoot a couple of decent numbers out there. You won't see real low numbers but you will almost see 7-, 8-, 9-under winning this golf tournament. But only for the sole reason that it is so wet. You can fly it in on every single green at the moment and stop the ball.
But, very much depends on the conditions on this golf course, I think. If the weather is calm, more than any course it's possible to play. If we just get a tiny little bit of wind out there, then this golf course is very, very difficult.
Q. You were talking about Monty and Mickelson, it might be their week. Are you good at predictions and if so, can you give us the best one you've ever made?
THOMAS BJORN: I'm not great at predictions. I would be into book-making if I was.
No, I'm not very good at that. I just see -- what I said before, I see those two both playing good golf last week and they both should come in here feeling like they could win and that's why I see them having a chance.
But, their not favorites. There's four or five other guys that are favorites. They are the guys, the top guys in the world of golf at the moment. They are playing the best and they are the ones to beat.
So I just see them having a good chance, and this is their opportunity to get it off their shoulders because I think there's a couple of guys out there feeling like they should be winning major championships more often than they do.
JULIUS MASON: Thank you very much for coming down, Thomas.
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